Cinderella remains one of the all-time great children's stories, and this year it's also become one of Broadway's biggest musicals. The show stars Laura Osnes in the title role, but some of the show's most captivating scenes are dominated by the Fairy Godmother. As she swirls and whirls around the stage, she shows the audience of young and old that anything is possible, in both life and theater. Veteran actress Rebecca Luker assumed the role in September after just two weeks of learning her part. And, she's a natural fit. Here's an email exchange I had with Luker this week about her part, the show, and all that goes into creating something so magical:
How's it going so far? What's your favorite part so far of working on this show?
Luker: It's going so well. I'm having a blast in this part; or should I say two parts. That's my favorite part; playing two different characters. It's something I've never done and I'm really enjoying it.
Your character always seems to swoop in (sometimes literally) at just the right time. It feels almost... magical. The themes within the script about making the impossible, possible, seem to come out in how the show is staged as well. Was that hard to pull off?
Luker: Not really. At least, from my end, it's a lot of fun and seems very right for the show. My appearances in these moments fit the magical, fantasy aspect of the production.
Talk a little bit about the duality of your role. The way you are introduced is a bit of a conceit for the audience's delight, but you still remain a mystery to Cinderella. Why's it important to establish the character one way and then to show off an elegant reveal?
Luker: I think if the fully-realized Fairy Godmother, in all her pink splendor appeared to Cinderella out of the blue, it wouldn't be the same at all. It's wonderful that we see her relationship and closeness with this strange and crazy old woman first. Then when "Marie," the crazy woman, magically transforms into the Fairy Godmother, it's amazing because we know how well they know each other. It adds a wonderful layer to the story.
(Photo by Carol Rosegg)
The costumes, particularly the costume changes, are so elaborate and breath-taking. How does that add another layer to this popular folk tale?
Luker: First of all, William Ivy Long is nothing short of genius. The way he rigged the dresses to magically transform is really breath-taking, as you say. It's easy to do something on film or in animation. It's quite another to do it live. And it really does bring magic into this fairy tale. The audience doesn't expect to see these transformations. And it's so much fun to do! I'm in the middle of a magic trick every night.
This show is also really funny, particularly in how it doesn't take itself too seriously. Was that something you were drawn to?
Luker: Absolutely. I just love Douglas Carter Beane's take on this old story. It's truly laugh-out-loud funny at times. But I also love the way he elevated Cinderella's story. She's not just a pretty girl who snags a handsome prince. There's much more to her. And there's much more to the Prince!
I was amazed by how many kids not only attended, but also stayed awake and alert throughout the performance. Are you and the other actors aware of the youthful following you've amassed?
Luker: Oh yes! We see them at the stage door in their tiaras! Actually, we see a lot of adult women in tiaras. :) But yes, it's wonderful to be an inspiration to these young theater goers. That makes me very happy.